After 10 years of marriage, 6 kids, a house, 2 cars, a home business and lots of medical records, we only have 2 drawers of paperwork. 4 years ago we had about 12 bank boxes and 4 drawers loaded to the max with papers. We were living with a literal paper monster. So, what has changed?
Virtually everything is ONLINE!
Some of the ways we were able to defeat our paper monster are the following...
1. Online Banking and bill payments, and online accounts with our utilities. Keep those monthly paper statements from arriving at home!
2. Online news and magazines
3. Smart phones where we keep our calendars, schedules and phone contacts
4. Online instructions and manuals for everything!
5. Digital photography and social media, keeping boxes of photos at bay
6. Pinterest and Google, where we find recipes, articles and how-to's for everything!
7. Sign up on the National Do Not Mail list. http://www.directmail.com/mail_preference/
As less paper came into the home, and even more shredded over the years, we eventually won the battle with our paper monster . Last year, we invested in colored hanging files and folders and used our label maker to really make it easy to find anything we had left. Green became finance, yellow-career, red- medical, blue- home maintenance and purple- education. We bought a shredder, caught up on filing, and now we are in maintenance mode. Don't get me wrong, this took hours, and it was a massive project; however, now paperwork is a piece of cake.
Here is how we maintain sanity:
We gather our mail in a drawer and go through it once a week by sorting it into the following piles: Recycling
Things to browse
Each one of those categories has a place, and we deal with them respectively. Bills are paid right after the mail is sorted, and the filing gets done immediately. Magazines or articles go into their basket, and coupons into their drawer. I regularly purge these areas as they add up, expire, or are no longer wanted.
How to start the battle
Once we got caught up, the maintenance wasn't so bad. If you have a paper monster as we once did, then start defeating it one battle at a time.
Recycle or shred everything that can obviously go, like:
Manuals for things you no longer own
Most paper statements
Taxes from over 7 years back
All those articles you thought you would look through but never have
Old magazines and newspapers
Then, sign up for everything online so that the papers stop coming to your door. Remember to use strong passwords, and change them often!
I don't know ANYONE who loves paperwork and bills, but eliminating the chaos makes it go more quickly, making it way more tolerable. Don't give up! Chip away at the piles, and hire help if needed. There is no shame in getting the job done twice as quickly and, ultimately, spending less time shifting and sorting through papers. It feels great and relieves stress to know where everything is so that we aren't missing a thing. We defeated the paper monster, and you can too!
Most of us are in "duck and cover" mode when it comes to the 2016 Election. We long for it to be over partly due to its vicious nature that has left many of us feel as though we are in some sort of countrywide, never-ending argument with one another. Blame whoever you want for that, but the fact is our feelings are real, and most of us are ready to move on. I know that when my husband and I are in a heated disagreement, it is extremely stressful for us both, and it doesn't really feel better until we discuss our differences, respect one another's viewpoints, and compromise for the good of our marriage and family. November 8th is not the day of reconciliation for our country. One party will win, and another party will be very unhappy and unresolved in their position. This is where the most important thing I have learned about this election comes into play. Yes, it IS vicious, and abrasive, and down-right embarrassing at times, but think of it in terms of the content and not the tone. For history's sake, the topics that are arising are pretty fantastic, and though ugly and nasty to discuss, they are MUCH needed changes that will make us all stronger and make our country better. So, instead of hiding from the discomfort of discussing racial discrimination, illegal immigration, sexual harassment, climate change, and financial and economic crisis, we have it right in our faces. It's smack dab in front of us, where it should be, and that's where REAL change can occur. Our country's problems and weaknesses have always existed; only now we are aware, and awareness is the beginning of change. I recognize that the topics with which we are being faced are awful and challenging to resolve, but think about how this is potentially affecting our country historically! We are on the brink of resolutions if we do not shrink away from the topics at hand. Let's come together and resolve to discuss our differences, respect one another's viewpoints, and compromise for the good of each other, our country, and our world. Let's not shrink back into our complacency or our ignorance and hide from the ugliness that we are far too aware of, and let us strive to resolve these issues even after November 8th. It WILL be wonderful when the tone of the election of 2016 changes -- which may not occur until the election is over -- but I have learned not to grow weary of the content because the topics being discussed are so important, and with them is the hope of historic change, change that would make our families, country and world stronger and more at peace.
Our two oldest children are 20 and 24 years old. They spent their childhood without cell phones, Facebook, Netflix, Snap Chat, Instagram, Twitter, etc., that is until they were about the ages of 12 and 16. That is when they got their first cell phones. They were the last children to grow up through adolescence without these technologies as a part of their everyday lives. My husband and I, of course, spent much of our lives without them. We are the generation that looks back and remembers a time when these things simply didn't exist, and it almost feels like another person lived that life or like it happened in a dream. As we are all well aware, our cell phones are now pretty much a part of our person, almost like a pair of contacts or eyeglasses. We are very aware of where our phone is at all times, and that phone is our life line to one VERY important aspect of our lives... INFORMATION. Let's face it, we grown-ups have some pretty fond memories of "the good old days" when we were unknowingly free from, well, knowing. We could spend all day reminiscing about the simplistic, stress-free sanity we all felt back then, but there is no changing our current times, and, lets be real, I'm dependent. I'm sold. I NEED to know! Don't you? So, now that we find ourselves here in the information age, how can we use it for good and harness it when it tries to disrupt our lives? I'm going to give you a list of ideas. That's all you really need right? Every piece of technology we have has this powerful thing called an OFF button. That OFF button is the harness and reigns with which you can prevent technology from getting control over you.
1. Set aside 1-2 times a day to check social media for personal pleasure. If needed, make it harder to check social media by removing apps from your cell phone that enable you to check it on the go. EEEEK, really? Yes, it feels amazing. I've tried it, and it feels like you are on vacation. Try it for a week or a month. You may never go back! Hey, your kids will thank you! We are on our phones WAY too much, myself included, and our kids and friends suffer for it.
2. Set aside 1-2 times a day to check email, and focus on answering questions immediately and cleaning out your inbox before you are finished. This will keep your email from getting cluttered up. Unsubscribe from anything that you do not love or is not useful.
3. If you are using Twitter, Instagram and/or FB for the free marketing, then limit yourself to using it for a small portion of your day or week, and make sure that you are seeing enough yield for your time spent. Remember to spent 20% of your day getting an 80% yield for yourself, your family, and your community. If it's not worth your time, then there are people to whom you can delegate or hire it out.
4. Remember social etiquette with your phone and devices. Never use it at the dinner table. Never look at your device when someone is speaking to you. Put your phone away when at a social gathering. Teach your children eye contact, and turn your phone ringer OFF whenever you are in any place where it might distract another person.
Boundaries You May Need To Place On Others
1. Wait as LOOOOOOONG as you possibly can before getting your kids hooked on technology. This can start as early as infancy. Yes, we had wooden puzzles that made cow and sheep noises, and no, we did not add the batteries. Yes, the parking garage my sons played with made car wash noises and such, and no, they had no idea this feature existed. Before the age of two, protect your little ones, and make the animal noises yourself with them. Try old school methods until they are the wiser for it. Then, don't sweat it, and if they want the sounds on, go for it. Our kids never knew these toys made sounds, and they don't until this day. We also have a strict rule of being 12 years old before owning a cell phone in our home, and we limit tablet and computer use before grade school. Just hang in there as much as you can; there is no guilt in a parent with a screaming baby using their phone to play Elmo in the grocery store line for sanity's sake.
2. Keep phones out of your kids' rooms at bedtime. Period. The end.
3. No phones while eating, snacking or engulfing food in anyway when you are eating with another person. Use that time to socialize.
4. Try and limit or eliminate children's phone use on short car rides, especially when you are one-on-one in the car. This is a wonderful time to catch up, so ask them questions or have them tell you about their day.
5. Mutually agree on technology boundaries with your spouse, partner, or roommate. Find time to relate and socialize together without the interruption of information.
6. Try a cell phone free day with your family once a month or a cell phone free vacation! I know of families who have done this, and they feel twice as refreshed once they get back. My kids love getting a break from their cell phones on vacation. Remember, they have never known any other world, so the peace and calm and quiet is especially wonderful to them!
Let's face it, the information age is both completely wonderful and completely addicting. By placing some, or all, of the above boundaries on your technology, you can get the benefits of accessible information without it ruling your life and causing a HUGE lack of focus and distraction. Don't beat yourself up. We've all spent too much time scrolling. Practicing healthy boundaries over technology will feel refreshing and give you more time. Share what boundaries have worked for you in the comments below. I would love to hear them!
As I try to write this post I am actually feeling very distracted; which is ironic, but true. I've been up for hours, and though I've had an hour of meditation, and learning, I have been having trouble just getting started on my TOP 3 most important tasks of the day. I think this is because what I had planned to do today was rescheduled due to sick kids, it is raining heavily, it's Monday, and, honestly, I wasn't really prepared mentally to write. Basically, I keep finding myself getting caught up with distractions like a little laundry here, a few things to pick up there, and I am obsessed with checking social media since I uploaded some pictures from our weekend. Yes, I had re-evaluated my TOP 3 list, and, yes, I had a new plan for the day, but I was still avoiding it. Sound familiar? What do you do if you still feel like you are spinning around in circles? The culprit is usually distraction; the kryptonite of finding focus. Some distractions are unavoidable like a family member who is unexpectedly ill, or the need to sleep, or eat. Tasks DO pile up and responsibilities do not just go away. Other distractions are totally avoidable like social media, certain phone calls, TV, or someone wanting your attention, rather than needing it. So, what do we do when we have unavoidable distractions come into our lives like a kid home sick? What do we do when we have even more avoidable distractions that keep popping into the forefront of our brains?
How To Find Focus With Unavoidable Distraction
First, pause and re-evaluate what ultimately matters most at that moment, and second, re-prioritize your TOP 3 based on that awareness. Often this is a temporary shift in goals, but things happen; and so we adjust.
In February of 2015, one of my sons became very ill. Day after day, week after week, he got worse, and worse until, by April, he had lost a lot of weight, and strength, and even color. He was diagnosed with Crohns Disease and, thankfully, after diagnosis, was quickly in remission, and on his way back to health. I was 6 months into the start up of my business, and I was seeing success with it's growth. However, when my son got sick, and needed help, it changed my motivations, and ultimately, my personal goals for myself and, our family. Since it made clear sense for my husband to keep working I needed to take care of my son. Working with clients was put on hold. I had to cancel with our babysitters, and instead do everything I could do to get him well. At the time I didn't know if, or when, I would be back to work, or if I would loose momentum, and clients in the process. However, it was unavoidable, and it was my top priority.
Maybe you don't have anything tragic happening in your life that is unavoidable. Maybe you have an inbox sitting on your desk, or in your email that is nagging at you to procrastinate when what is most important is preparing for an upcoming meeting. Maybe there are toys scattered all over your family room, and company coming that night, but there is only a half an hour before naps, and its a beautiful day to go out and play. Stuff adds up and things happen, but sometimes we need to go back and re-evaluate what ultimately matters most in light of new circumstances. Then we can re-prioritize our TOP 3 based on that awareness.
More often than we like, we have our game plan, but notice ourselves procrastinating in unhealthy ways. If you catch yourself doing this then, you need to practice single tasking. Choose your first activity, and do only that one thing without distraction. Start with 5-15 minutes a day. Silence your phone, shut social media windows, close your office door, whatever you find you need to do. I deleted all the widgets on my phone for a month once just to make it harder for me to check social media mindlessly throughout my day. Even if you remove physical distractions your mind may try and sabotage your focus by wandering off. Notice each time it happens and be patient with yourself. Practice letting go of your thoughts whether they be worries, ambitions or stress and focus on what you are doing in that very moment. If necessary write them down as they come to mind if that helps to let them go. Instead of avoiding what you already know and have decided to be most important in that moment, avoid your distractions, and focus on the one thing that is in front of you till completion. Practice healthy procrastination and remember to put your time and effort into the 20% that yields the 80% not the other way around. In doing this, you will relieve stress and find that you are able to tackle the 80% that isn't as important, delegate it to someone else, or even let it go.
In this information age a lot of our distraction comes from social media. That's why I decided to devote an entire part of the "Finding Focus" series to that particular issue. Until then, practice single tasking for 5-15 minutes a day on the 20% that yields the 80% most value in your life, and the lives of those around you. Balancing simplicity in your life is about finding focus and that isn't always as easy as it seems. However, just as it is with anything we practice, 5-15 minutes a day of single tasking will increase both your focus and lower your stress level. I found that I felt like I got more accomplished by focusing on less. Awareness, Prioritize, Avoid Distraction...you are well on your way.
It was going to be a year of new beginnings. We had one child entering Kindergarten, one starting middle school, one moving on to high school, a freshman beginning college and one graduating from college and entering the workforce. I was also preparing to launch a new business within a month, still flying high from my vision of getting my business off the ground, when reality hit. In my head, I had imagined September to be a wide open road -- all the kids would be tucked neatly into their various schools, and I would have plenty of free time to devote to my "master plan" of doing it all. What-ever...As it turned out, between afternoon half-day kindergarten and the middle and high school bus getting home, I had all of an hour and a half total to myself. So, as any mom would do with all this free, I completely over-committed and decided it would be my "exercise, errand-running, business-building, school-volunteering and socializing with friends" time for me. Sadly, what actually happened was I ended up getting yesterdays dishes done...sometimes...on a good day. Frustration quickly set in with a big helping of guilt, you know, that awful kind of guilt where you feel like a failure on various levels, but no matter how hard you try you still can't seem to please anyone, especially yourself. With my hubby buried up to his eyeballs at work, I was the IT parent, and I was busy. Problem was, I was also aware that I wanted more. The garden where I had spent that past summer realizing what it was that really mattered the most to me needed less tending, and I rarely stopped to meditate on what was truly motivating me. I was driven by each day's to-do list and trying to paddle upstream in raging water. I needed to focus again. This time I turned to my girlfriends for that priceless "think out loud and hash out your thoughts" kind of conversation; the kind from which I try to spare my husband when I'm not yet entirely sure what I want to say and am not ready for him to tell me how to fix it. It just so happened that one of my dear friends was paddling right beside me in the same boat -- going upstream, or trying to. Sometimes friends can save you 1000's of dollars on counseling sessions (not that there is anything wrong with counseling, of course). I seriously NEEDED those talks. Though I had taken the time to pause and reflect on what was most important to me, I couldn't seem to figure out how put it into action, and I was frustrated with spinning my wheels and getting seemingly no where. It wasn't enough to just have an awareness of what I believed, I was supposed to do. I needed more than a destination. I needed a map. Talking it out with my friend helped me to rehash what my my non-negotiable's for each given moment, or day, were versus what I hoped to accomplish, and I made a flexible plan for both. It wasn't the best daily plan, and I would eventually learn that and adjust, but it was a plan, and it was based on what I valued most at the time. Like I said, I have since learned A LOT about what my true priorities are. Everyone's are different, and they change, so we adjust. Fast forward to now with some practical advice for prioritizing your day; a road map based on the the values that matter most to you. In the end, I'll fill you in on how it looked for me.
TOP 3 Picks
We only have 24 hours in a day (8 of which I hope to be sleeping) so that leaves us with 16 waking hours. Most of us, these days, have at least twice that many hours worth of responsibility, so how do we use our time? The answer? By learning to pick our top 3 most important tasks for the day. These are things that no one else could do, but ourselves. They should be the tasks that yield the biggest impact for us, our family and our world. It is important to make those TOP 3 picks specific, and do them first thing, once your work day begins. For the stay at home parent with young kids it might look like keeping the children safe, fed and learning. I know when my kids were little if I kept them alive, and they ate nutritious food, and learned something new, that, that day was a success. For the corporate business person it could be answering email, prepping for that big meeting, and writing a memo. For those who are retired it might be personal exercise, volunteering, and cooking a healthy meal for themselves. I understand that there are often many more important tasks that each of us have in a given day, but start with your top 3 and focus on them until completion. This will cause you to invest first in what will give you the biggest yield. Be flexible! Do what has the biggest impact on you, your family, or your work.
Don't sweat the small stuff
When you begin to practice prioritizing, things might get a little messy in other areas. The dishes might stack up on the counters, your filing pile might accrue, or there might be a little extra dust on the bookshelves. This is good, no sweat! Smaller tasks can often be delegated, hired out, or done less often. They usually don't offer you, your family or the world much of a yield, or impact so, learn what matters most, and if necessary ask for help with what is left undone.
If you focus on practicing the priority of your TOP 3 most valuable, highest yielding tasks each day, you are going to need to learn to put off other tasks till later. Whenever possible, try not to repeat tasks. You could do all the days dishes once a day. Only do laundry, meal planning and grocery shopping once a week. Try large batch cooking or whole house cleaning so that you are not repeating chores. Maybe stick mail in a drawer and attend to it once a week, while at the same time paying bills, recycling and filing it all in one sitting. There are endless ways that you can try healthy procrastination which will buy yourself more time to invest in what is most valuable, meaningful and full of impact.
(*A side note to single parents here...I was in your shoes and I FULLY understand the level of extra responsibility you carry. You are not alone. You are exhausted, and stretched beyond measure, but you have just as many values that matter to you--if not more--than the rest of us, all while carrying added responsibility on your shoulders. Finding focus by practicing priorities is not a pipe dream for you...it is a life jacket)
So, back to how I figured out how to "manage it all"...Well, actually, I didn't. I let a lot of it go, I delegated, I hired some of it out, I got my minions (my kids) to help out more. That September, I started with my TOP 3 priorities each day. I chose exercise at home in the morning, working with clients from 1-5 pm and carpooling the kids from activities from 5-6. These were things that only I could do, and they were non negotiable's to me at the time. In order for me to do this, we hired a cleaning lady to clean the house, a babysitter to watch the kids after school, and we started giving the older kids an allowance attached to a list of chores like: doing their own laundry, walking the dog, etc. I was able to build my business and grow it in the first 6 months; something only I could do, and the essentials around the house were getting done. Soon we would find out some unfortunate news that would change my priorities, and we would need to adjust, but for now I was making enough to pay the cleaner and the sitter and I loved my job. In Finding Focus, Part 3: Avoiding Distraction, I will go into what to do when unexpected things come up that you can not avoid, and how to limit distractions that you can avoid. Until then, find your TOP 3 Picks, don't sweat the small stuff and practice some healthy procrastination. Do those, and you will begin to find your focus...
I was completely overwhelmed. Completely. It was early May, and we had just moved more than an hour away from my husbands office into our dream home, with 6 kids and our dog. With Jeff gone most of each week, I spent my days unpacking, setting up house, decorating, planting my first garden, and looking for a new job after being a stay at home mom for more than a decade. It was the end of the school year when EVERY single teacher seems to assign the dreaded "at home school project" and I was in neck deep driving to more sports and activities than I could possibly do myself. Car pools were driving in and out of the driveway, and I kept a Costco sized box of snacks and drinks in my trunk for the loads of kids I was transporting each day. We ate in the car from convenience stores and take out restaurants, and pretty much ran ourselves ragged all afternoon and evening. Our weekends were filled with kids birthday parties, sports, errands and maintaining the house. Honestly, I don't remember much at all from the first 5 months after we moved. Things were beyond busy, and we were beyond stretched. I was able to maintain keeping up the house cleaning, grocery shopping, and laundry during the week, but I had really hoped to start working again after the summer, and I had NO idea how I was going to manage that. Every time I asked my husband for advice he gave me the same answer, "Figure out what it is that you want to do, and then do that." I found it infuriating. "I want to do ALL of it!" was my immediate response each and every time we talked. In truth, he really got me thinking. "What DID I want?". I spent the rest of that summer pondering this each morning as I gardened. What were my most important priorities? What did I value more than anything else? What would help others the most, and also mean the most to me? His advice honed in on the simplistic core of my question. What was it that ultimately mattered to me? Instead of trying to solve 100's of smaller questions about practical issues that I was trying to figure out, he first pointed me to dig deeper into myself and FOCUS on my key priorities. This was the beginning; the way I found the path to balancing simplicity. That time in the garden was life changing for me. It was there that I became aware, by being mindful, through quiet meditation, and pausing to reflect. As I picked warm tomatoes and watered the cucumbers I allowed myself the stillness to think about what it was that really mattered to me the most. In the end, it was during this time of reflection where I found the FOCUS, that gave me the theme, for that which I was able to map out the rest of my values and priorities. I had a vision...some direction, and it was thrilling. The daily practice of tending my garden and mindfully using that time to reflect gave me the focus to become aware of my deeper motivations and desires. I still take time daily to focus. It stills brings me an awareness of what my motivations are and resets my priorities. There are so many ways we can spend time focusing. A time of meditation, quiet reflection, prayer, washing dishes, or like I did, watering a garden. During this time, mindfully reflect on what is ultimately driving you. What are your thoughts, worries and responsibilities? Allow yourself to be still with these, and become aware of what is most important to you. That is how you find awareness and reset your motivations, and this is the beginning of finding focus. So, what did I figure out in that tomato patch anyway? Turns out I wanted to build my own business with flexible enough hours so that I could still be home with my kids before and after school all while still doing something I loved during the day. I'll explain how this all came to be in my next focus blog, "Finding Focus, Part 2: Practicing Priorities". Until then, go find a tomato patch and discover something wonderful. Five minutes a day is all it takes...
Photo Credit: Owen Duncan
We played in puddles with our dog today; five of us, ages seven to...much older, and the dog was the star of the show. Our dog LOVES puddles. Today was one of those sticky, humid, warm days with even warmer rain, and not a bit of thunder or lightening. It was delightful. Gus, our dog, pounced around, running in and out of puddles in a circuit, trying, to nip at the huge rain drops in between splashing. My son took pictures, my youngest daughter danced and laughed, and my youngest teenage son ran around with a trash can lid over his head since we seem to be short on umbrellas around here. Our house eats umbrellas, so you know to never bring your very best umbrella when you visit. The dog was soaked...drenched. We toweled him off twice, but it was not enough, and he shook the rain all over the kitchen, several times. No one cared the least bit, although startled cries always go out when you are in the shake zone and getting sprayed indoors. Warm, rainy summer days are one of my all time favorites, and when they arrive on a quiet Sunday afternoon? Well, that is all the better...How did we all end up splashing in puddles? You see, we were on our way home from the food store when it started to rain, good and hard. "Gus would love these puddles", I said to the kids. Immediately they begged to take him on what we call a puddle ride -- a coveted summer car ride splashing through puddles in the streets. He is truly adorable with his love for puddles, so much so, that he cried when we got home again. That's when we decided to let him out to run and play in the heavy rain. He was having so much fun we couldn't resist but to join in. Simple joys-- they are truly the best and most memorable. Finding delight in a warm, summer rain and making a family memory together...all part of balancing simplicity. I hope you can find joy this week in something simple. True delight in warm sunshine on your face or a cool breeze through a window. Each morning when I take Gus outside, I purpose to notice something beautiful and smile about it. Discover some simple joy, and maybe even bring your dog along for the fun...
Photo Credit: Evan Duncan
Our family's nutrition could be best described as: slow moving, forward progress, with an 80/20 mindset. We eat our best about 80% of the time, and don't sweat it the other 20%. We all prefer to eat a healthy, balanced diet with low sugar, no antibiotics, and organic whenever possible, but there is a kicker: four of us are lactose intolerant, two of us have Celiac Disease, and one has Crohns disease. Therefore, there are times I need to have a gluten free, dairy free, nut, corn and seed free, low fiber meal. Yeah. It's crazy. Due to the restrictions, I need to plan ahead. I also prefer to keep it simple. Though I love to cook, and consider it one of my most enjoyable hobbies, I only find it enjoyable when done at a leisured pace, and preferably when I'm not constricted to a kid's palette. So, generally 30 minutes or less is an ideal amount of cooking time. Before I can start a simple and balanced meal, I need to know what I am making AND have the ingredients in the house. This is what works for me with some examples of our favorite meals included.
First I try to do the following:
1. Have a stocked pantry with different pastas, broths, rice, granola, oats, etc.
2. Find frozen options that work, and keep them in the freezer (e.g., organic chicken, wild fish, fruit for smoothies and veggies).
3. Use good spices to change it up and add flavor.
4. Create a meal plan each week/month (see below for examples).
5. Grocery shop once a week for everything. Put your list on your phone so it is always with you!
For meal planning I follow the same general ideas each week
1. Pasta night
(Spaghetti and meatballs, Chicken parmesan, Ravioli, Baked Ziti, Baked Macaroni and Cheese)
(Tacos, Enchiladas, Burritos, Ultimate Nachos, Fajitias)
(Grilled chicken or fish with pita, feta, cucumbers, olives, and tomatoes in any form or fashion)
4. Salad night
(Ceasar Salad, Cobb Salad, Taco Salad, Quinoa Salad, Wedge Salad)
5. Panini night
(Bread, rolls or wraps filled with leftovers, lunch meat, cheese and veggies. Get creative!)
6. Pizza night (my favorite night)
7. Leftovers night
(Side note: I desperately want to learn how to cook Indian food. We all love it so much, but I only know how to make one dish!)
We probably eat the same 25 meals over and over...life with kids. At least I could cook these recipes in my sleep! I also made a list of 7 general breakfast choices to keep in the house, as well as 5 school lunch choices so that I don't forget to keep those items stocked week to week. Here are my family's favorites on that front.
Egg Bagel sandwich
Waffles with Fruit
Pancakes and bacon
Granola and yogurt/almond milk
Muffins and smoothies
Scrambled eggs with toast
Oatmeal with fruit and nuts
Turkey and cheddar sandwich
Roast beef and Swiss sandwich
Chicken ceaser wrap
The basic general gist is "don't try to reinvent the wheel" every week. Switch it up with more generalities and have fun in a thematic sort of way. A stocked pantry, menu planning and a food list on your phone will help tremendously. Happy eating!
Photo Credit: Owen Duncan
I used to live my life where at a certain point in each given day, I was done, simply done. Whatever was left unfinished was left until the next day, and I HAD to stop and rest. This usually happened after dinner with dishes, toys, and undone tasks scattered everywhere. All day, I never stopped, never took breaks, and was in a constant state of "Much to do! Much to do!"
I do still tend to get every minute out of every day; not necessarily with tasks, but with whatever I deem most important in each given moment. Sometimes that is sitting on the kitchen counter chatting with kids, and other times it's checking things off the mile long mom list I have yet to ever finish (although, my general rule of thumb is that people come first whenever possible). However, I have come to learn that resting is so important. Pressing the pause button, vegging-out, putting your feet up, porch sitting. Pausing is a priority in my day. Everyday. Where I used to go non-stop all day until I collapsed at the day's end, I have learned there is a better way to push the pause button. Taking break-intervals actually helps me to accomplish more! I realized that I was so overwhelmed by my own to do list that I was afraid to stop and recharge. By allowing my fear of something being undone or my list getting out of control, I ran my batteries down till they were empty. I also found that if I ever did stop that I had a lot of trouble restarting, or even moving for that matter. Realizing when you need to pull back and stop DOING will actually enable you to DO more! So, I am making some new areas of my life priorities and also using them as break intervals from constant work. Quiet meditation in the morning, exercise before work, green tea in the mid afternoon and extending our dinner time together to sit for a minute and share our days are a few break intervals I am currently enjoying. The first few days and weeks I actually had to schedule these new habits into my day. I was used to just rushing from thing to thing. Learning to pause throughout my day is helping me lower my stress, and believe it or not, I am getting SO much more done. Try out some other kinds of relaxing breaks for yourself! Massage, hobbies, or doing something that you love are a few, and the list is endless. Be purposeful to spend some extra time on the weekends to recharge. I am learning to reward myself every day with something refreshing so that I can not only be recharged to complete my work, but I am happier, less stressed and making my values my priorities. On the weekends we are carving out longer periods of time for rest and fun instead of using our days off only to pack out even more to do. So, make time for rest. Pause your day so that you don't miss what is most important in life. Take time to get balanced.